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Grateful Dead Live at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on 1985-12-31

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Grateful Dead Live at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on 1985-12-31

Topics Live concert

Not Fade Away-> Touch Of Gray, Tons Of Steel, CC Rider, Dupree's Diamond Blues, Cassidy-> Brown Eyed Women, Let It Grow Midnight Hour-> Sugaree, Women Are Smarter, Ship of Fools, Playin' In The Band-> Terrapin Station-> Drums*-> Truckin'-> Black Peter-> Throwing Stones-> Not Fade Away, E:Not Fade Away-> E: Turn On Your Love Light, E: Brokedown Palace*

Collection GratefulDead
Band/Artist Grateful Dead
Venue Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Location Oakland, CA

Source Bertha Remaster of the PreFM Soundboard source. SBD(PreFM)>>CASS>>DAT>>CDA>>DAW(Bertha)>>CDA/SHN by Jay Ashley


Bertha Remaster of the PreFM Soundboard source. SBD(PreFM)>>CASS>>DAT>>CDA>>DAW(Bertha)>>CDA/SHN by Jay Ashley


Reviewer: Mind Wondrin - favoritefavoritefavorite - October 26, 2015
Subject: PPV, no, wait

The NYE run was moved to the Oakland Coliseum (from San Fran) at this point and, because of the size, was only two days instead of a run, but came right after notable (especially 11/21) Kaiser run. The next year, post-coma, the NYE run was AT the Kaiser, then came back here for '87. The show is quite uptempo for '85 (the year Jer finally quit dancing all over the stage and started concentrating his boundless energies on just playing), but, famously, the second set went out on the USA network as their NYE special. Parts were also used for the So Far video. I was remembering it as PPV, but the reason was because few people HAD the USA network at the time and we were invited to this dude's house (that had a dish or cable or summat) for a shindig. Unfortunately they didn't go live until the second set, at which point the dude's National Guard roommate and drunken friends came home and started telling us how stupid the Dead were and trying to change the channel. This devolved into a stupid Heads vs. Hawks argument on the nature of war (their stance being that war was human and peace was not the natural state of things - "Nothing was ever solved with peace so what's so great about it?"). We vowed to be there in person the next year.

Someone had passed out flyers in the lots which read:

When the band comes onstage, let's show them our appreciation by chanting, "You know our love will not fade away."

Which is why the band catches the groove (how many audiences can even clap in unison?) and opens with a Not Fade>Touch. It was hosted by Ken Kesey, Father Guido Sarducci, Tom Davis and Grateful Red, variously, on FM and TV. Kesey was a nut and Sarducci was hilarious. They cut in to the NY countdown with Bill Graham on the float and the faces of the band on the side. Then Kesey started shouting,"There's no describing it! It makes Blake look like Charles Schulz. It's a representation of the USS Merrimack! I see John Lennon and Wagner. Wagner himself! This must have cost millions! IT'S FDR!!! IT's FDR!!!" A skeptical (read: slightly more sober) Sarducci intejected, "Eet looks-a like Tom Petty." Unswayed, Kesey continued, "It's Sam the Eagle from the muppets! Eric Clapton! Eric Clapton himself!". Kesey is witnessing an entirely different event.
Sarducci: "Uh, that's-a not Eric Clapton..."
Kesey: "Then Frank Zappa! It must be Frank Zappa...Rasputin! Rasputin is here...It's FDR, Rasputin and Eric Clapton!!!"
Hoo man, sizzlin' on the air!

If you went to a NYE show you probably suss a different vibe than if you're just listening to the show for the first time. Still, this one has good moments, as others have mentioned; but there were better 80s NYE shows. For those of you unfamiliar: The NYE was a big party with a private feel because tix were so hard to get. It took all day to get in, get good seats and get through the opening bands, then the Dead played until the following wee hours. At midnight Graham would trigger some extravaganza such as flying on wires, always while dressed as father time, tossing roses to the heads, with fireworks, hundreds of balloons falling from the ceiling and doves would be released. Big freaking parties, they were. A long-ass night out. It was the place to be and the shows weren't really about technical musical excellence. Though from today's lens we can certainly evaluate the show musically, critically, for listening purposes.

First Set. They set off at a crazy tempo. You can hear Jer yelling at the drummers to slow down a few times during the set. At under an hour it's pretty short for 1st set but there's already been two opening performers and two more sets to come. The crowd-sourced Not Fade>Touch of Grey segue is priceless, though it's hard to put fills in the song at this tempo! Pretty ironic for a band that could be so curmudgeonly sluggish at times. It WAS played in a faster arrangement from late '85 to '87, but this is one of THE fastest. When Jer doesn't have to sing he whiplashes a hot solo. A temperamental Tons of Steel is one of only five in '85 and the first since April. We were still getting tapes labeled "900000 Tons" at the time. The rest is average '85 with the set peaking at a hot Brown-Eyed Women. Bobby subtly admonishes the drummers, going into Let it Grow, for playing too uptempo and putting their shoes in the dryer for an entire set (note that the Bertha source has the dry feed here while others do not).

Second Set. The first standout is a fantastic Sugaree and most of the rest is average to above average. The So Far video segues in to this Playin'>Lady with a Fan from a band practice because it's a hot, uptempo version (Playin' was great at the time and there's another classic on 11/10). The DVD skips ahead from this busy, uptempo, but undramatic Terrapin to Space (the drummers, with Baba Olatunji, stay on). "Just like a Swiss watch," Bobby proclaims as they drop into Black Peter. Having a meta moment? Because Throwing Stones is a fight; a struggle and they don't recover until Olatunji helps with a solid Brokedown. Double encore, but no third set. Party on, Garth.

1st Set:  B-
2nd Set: C
Overall = 3 Stars

NFA>Touch of Grey - Unusual crowd-fed segue into a time-smeared Touch
Sugaree - One of the few songs to benefit from the speeding drummers - Jer digs it
Playin' - The version picked for So Far

SOURCES: The best copy to emerge, by far, is the miller.78054 (except there's a gap in Let it Grow, and glitches in Playin' and Space so go to the Bertha source for those). However it runs too fast and needs -1% pitch for the first set and -2% for the first two songs of the second set . Even some of the FM sources are too fast and all of the AUDs run even faster. FM.sbd.113739 has the Father Sarducci commentary, which is usually also found on youtube with the second set.
Reviewer: dupree413 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 1, 2013
Subject: Not Fade Away!!!
If you were not around for '85 shows, you need to somehow get a look at this one. It was on the USA network (audio - FM stations).

This New Year's show is underrated. Sure it's not '76 or '78, but it is a 20 song show that is solid from start to finish.

If you can get the Father Garducci (sp?) segment, please do. It is funny and he did a great job with that style of humor.

Not Fade is pulsating and takes you right into the show. Interestingly, the Touch that follows is gentle and like a bird on the shoulder. Bob's blues repitoire was more diversified in '85. He did Bottom>Superstitious, Walking the Dog (with Jerry) and Kansas City (twice). But he stays with the standard C.C. Rider (how soon after that song would be dumped, no?). Cassidy is great, as is Brown-Eyed Woman. But the Let it Grow closer is a tumbling, noodling gem. Great guitar work by 'ol Jer.

It's Bob's night - as you will hear/see when you check this out. Midnight Hour, Playin', Truckin', an Apocalyptic Throwing Stones. And then back into Not Fade Away. The band stops - but the crowd didn't!!!Resulting in one of the more interesting versions.
5 stars (Actually 4 and 1/2 for 1985 standards).
Reviewer: CrypticalEntrancement - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 20, 2010
Subject: Sugaree
Shake it, Shake it, Sugaree

Just don't tell 'em you know me...

Reviewer: logan714 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 19, 2009
Subject: For those of you who weren't there
First I've seen a few reviews bitching about the band and their quality of playing that night. Well, first things first, the band was as HIGH as we were. And I was pretty damn high that night. Love the tye-dye crowd effect from the Gondola at the top of the arena. Full oil bubble show, full projection screens. Just beautiful. Everybody I hear bitching about the show I didn't see you at section 223 using the scoreboard as a rolling tray or for linskies. A lot of my very good friends we had an "f"ing blast partying with each other. Went back stage, and everyone was as high as we were that we ran into. Great Full Service Bar. The highlight of the show was when the band just stopped and the crowd sang to them. You should have seen the looks on their faces. I'd like to see anybody bitching about it do 1/10th as good of a job half as high as we were that night.

For those of you in the know it's called "sealed for your protection".

Reviewer: Augy - favorite - August 18, 2009
Subject: Don't be fooled!
This is if not the worst, definite one of the worst New Year's shows ever! I'm sorry if you think you it was good, but please compare others such as 81-82 (best ever) for example, or even the closing of Winterland is much better than this. They get progressively worse after '82.

San Diego
Reviewer: Evan S. Hunt - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 1, 2009
Subject: A Jazzy Terrapin
And an all-in-all pretty good showing by the band.

Bass from the FM is too strong and Jerry's vocals are too weak, but this is a very good performance and a nifty remaster.

Can you imagine I lived only a few short miles away and didn't attend because I was not into the GD at the time? All the other times, when I was into the Dead, I lived far away. That's the way life is.
Reviewer: skullsnroses - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 24, 2008
Subject: to set it straight
as the clear authority on the hilarity here let me be the first to say-> nice singing on brokedown jerry! you might be low in the mix and high on a speedball, but you really sound good on this one old boy! I also have to add that Midnight Hour is feelin' really really good too. Fun show wish I coulda been there. oh, and I love Brent... Peace!
Reviewer: Burnt Rich - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 10, 2008
Subject: Thanks for the great yogurt, dose, and YOU, Kesey!!
I really do wish we had the whole Kesey-Father Guido 2nd set opener for this show. It just sets the tone for the second set like you would not believe! The craziest , haziest rambling diatribe I ever heard on any tape I had in my collection of Dead shows. Must be heard in full to fully appreciate the madness Kesey embodied!This always was one of my all time favorite bootlegs EVER!!.....The second set is absolutely incredible--the first ain't no slouch, either. What a great way to end 1985, one of the most incredible years the band gave us in their history. Thank you, Thank you. Thank you!
Reviewer: Capt. Midnite - favoritefavoritefavorite - January 4, 2007
Subject: Purty Good Show
My VHS tape of the 2nd set is now gone, but as an impressionable 16 year old this show turned me into a Dead fan for life. While it is mid 80's Dead with Jerry tired and practically not moving on stage (watch the tape), there are some nice moments, with Midnight Hour, Terrapin, and Black Peter as highlights. Worth the listen.
Reviewer: lobster12 - favoritefavoritefavorite - June 28, 2006
Subject: good new years
Again, I usually differ with most on new years shows, but I like this one when most say it's clinker. Jerry's voice isn't that great at times, but I like second set an awful lot. I rememeber Kesey trying describe what was on the ckae float and screaming, "it's sam the eagle" from the muppets!

PL: I did my tape fip right before truckin on a hunch. I remember those days of the tape flip on NYE
Reviewer: kamala - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 12, 2006
Subject: Happy New Year
Hopefully this gem will "Not Fade Away". How long this great archive is available to the masses is uncertain. Make haste of your time to waste. Great show and sound quality. Always lots of fun to hear the new year's shows. Definately worth the download.
Reviewer: PL_Maven - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 11, 2005
Subject: Just like a swiss watch
I remember taping the show off of FM radio onto a C-90 cassette... just as Truckin' was ending I was sweating whether I would miss part of the song when the tape ran out, not to worry, Truckin' ended, the tape ran out exactly at that moment, with swift precision I flipped the tape, hit the record button, and just then at that exact moment, as the band went into Black Peter, Bobby said, "Just like a Swiss watch."
Reviewer: slimboyhowdy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 26, 2005
Subject: woefully un-reviewed NYE show
while a bit up and down, IMHO this is a great new year's show. and there aren't many of those as most of us realize.
i'm not sure what the fella down there's talking about when he asks where jer's vocal is. it's right where it always was in '85 -- a bit low in the mix bit still emotive as hell.... just listen to 'black peter!'
anyway, first set highlights include a very ripping 'cassidy,' nice and tight with plenty of phil and bob d'oh-ing the lyrics (at least brent's got his back), a sweet 'brown-eyed' and the killer closer, 'let it grow,' which is really unbelievable. i'm not sure i've ever heard them as tight during the two breakdowns in this tune. and jerry just rips in this version. if you know anything about me, you know i'm kind of a red-ass, not your typical head. i don't give a rip about tye dye (anymore) or hippies or partying -- i just care about the music and the recording. suffice it to say, i think i've downloaded one show for every 10 or 12 that i listen to. when i say jerry rips it in 'let it grow,' i freaking mean it. and the rest of the band is practically crawling up his ass -- it's that good. still gives me goosebumps and i've had a tape of this show since i recorded it off the radio, nye 1985!
set two opens with a great 'midnight hour,' motown style, bob and brent trading on the "wait wait wait" nicely. 'sugaree' with jerry once again ripping it up. then. finally. we get to the 'playing,' the whole reason i'm writing this review. after the vocal is done, the band collectively seems to take a deep breath, phil exhaling first with a couple of sweet bass runs and then WHAM! jerry with a most amazing descending guitar line, slow and provocative. i heard a tribute on npr's "fresh air" after jerry died and they (it might have been david gans) used this solo to illustrate jerry's style. and i also believe it was used on the 'so far' movie. it's amazing.
'terrapin' is great, the 'truckin' is passable (not one of my faves), but the 'black peter' is spot on perfect. even when jerry's voice was gone, it sure was good on the weepers and this is no exception. a rare spot for it, late in set 2, but beautiful, regardless. 'throwing stones' is great as well with some particularly great drumming. and, as another reviewer mentioned, gloriously not oversung by bobby. it's as plaintive and melancholy as i've ever heard him. he sounds tired of it all, but full or energy at the same time. it hink this is when TS finally gelled for him.
anyway, great show (and great recording), especially for a NYE .

PS - great point, hoohah! i'm not sure what i was thinking there.... the weeper slot is always late, set 2! sorry if i led anyone astray....
Reviewer: Mibs - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 21, 2005
Subject: Let my inspiration flow
If nothing else check out the Terrapin. One of the top five of all time in my opinion.
Reviewer: djp201 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 5, 2005
Subject: One of my all time favorites
I remember this show very well from when it aired on radio and I taped it, to when it aired on the USA network. It was one of my favorite tapes, and over the years of playing it so much my first set got lost and my second set got ate. I've been looking for this on the net for a long time. I can't say enough good things about it, NFA was kicking, Throwin Stones was awesome and Black Peter and Let It Grow were phenomenal. Loved it.....I'm surprised that doesn't offer all the NYE recordings themselves on CD, those are some of the best shows in my opinion.
Reviewer: HooHah - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 6, 2005
Subject: late in set 2?
Slimboy, if late in set 2 is rare placement for Black Peter, i'm buyin what you're smokin'. hey, but it's all good. Word.
Reviewer: HooHah - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 6, 2005
Subject: late in set 2?
Slimboy, if late in set 2 is rare placement for Black Peter, i'm buyin what you're smokin'. hey, but it's all good. Word.
Reviewer: Trannyman - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 2, 2005
Subject: Yup, a goodie
I agree, a strong New Years show. The music has the classic 85/86 era sound that was lost by Summer of 86 and never returned.

The Midnight Hour is magical.
Reviewer: WiggieB - favoritefavoritefavorite - February 24, 2005
Subject: "Play the Band"
Ah yes, the flyers outside the show. Pretty cool how they were so kind to respond to our request! My first, and only NY show as well. Great energy from the crowd, and a valiant effort by the band, but they seemed a bit ragged by the end of the year.

The one thing I really like from this show is the Throwing Stones. I know, I know. But I really like the tone they hit with this one, and I like Bobby's treatment of the lyrics. The weariness of it at the end strikes me as approppriate, as I was a bit weary of the things going on in the rest of the world in the 80s that prompted this song.

Give it a listen. Love it or hate it. Or don't listen at all.
Reviewer: MALACHI CONSTANT - favorite - January 23, 2005
Subject: where is volume on jerry's vocals
it's nice to know all these people where there but.. this is to review sound quality as i was there as well so that being said again i ask :where is the volume on jerry's vocals because they sure as hell aint there on this version
Reviewer: Steinbergerman - favoritefavoritefavorite - September 21, 2004
Subject: "It's a representation of the USS Merrimack!!!!"
This was broadcast on the USA Network at the time, starting at intermission. The absolute highlight was a *very* animated Ken Kesey trying to describe the giant birthday cake float that rolled across the arena floor before midnight. He was quite obviously in an altered state and seeing things his own unique way! "This must have cost millions!!!" Sort of average show though, and not up to the level of most of '85.
Reviewer: pdthiede - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 18, 2004
Subject: BTW
Finally, fans of the "So Far" video can have a digital copy of the smooth as silk Playin'>Terrapin combo.
Reviewer: thechaps57 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 16, 2004
Subject: The Audience Played the Band
Out in the parking lot prior to this show, fliers were circulating and the word was being passed that we were going to try to "play the band" that night. The suggestion was to begin clapping/stomping the rhythm to "Not Fade Away" as soon as the band hit the stage, to see if we could get them to bend to our desires. One glance at the setlist you'll see that we were indeed successful.

This was the only Grateful Dead New Year's show I attended, and is a special memory. The overall show was perhaps only a "B" (or 4 stars), but carries huge sentimental value.

I seem to remember Bill Graham flying over the audience as Father Time or some such antic. Hard to see back through the fog of time. I also remember how my pal was getting harrassed by the heat and they were questioning him outside, which left me freakin' the scene by myself for the first part of the show. You'll all be happy to know they let him into the show even after confiscating his substance of choice. Methinks even cops surrender to the Greatful Dead New Year's vibe.

After listening to the Dead circa 1971-1974 (which is 80% of my Grateful Dead diet), this just isn't as vital or jaunty. Jerry sounds tired, strung out, and weak. But the magic is still there, and this is worthy of download, especially if you were there.
Reviewer: philly - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 10, 2004
Subject: wow!!
this show was good from the start but they play touch of grey way to fast one of my top 10 for 85 its a MUST HAVE SHOW!!!!!
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